About Red Tales

Here's an evolving electronic collection of short prose pieces, with a poem contributed occasionally. Brevity guides. Although sometimes a piece will run to 900 words, most pieces are much shorter. Here one may find erotica, flash fiction, brief observations, and modest improvisations. Another rule is that each piece must have something to do with"red"; at least the word has to appear in each piece functionally. . . . All pieces are numbered and titled, so there's a de facto table of contents running down the rail below, under "Labels" (scroll down a bit). Browse for titles that look interesting, if you like. Thank you for stopping by. Look for some red today, tonight.

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

41. Red-Ant Nest

A swarm of circumstances caused red-ant nests to be part of my ken.

As a boy and when a boy, I stirred the nests with sticks. The nests stank grandly.

I watched the ants--two parts cinnamon, one part pepper--travel and work, hauling stupendous loads. A blue-winged butterfly shipped back to the nest looked like a sea-tossed yacht.

Concentration of so many ants is hypnotic, their subterranean culture and above-ground urbanity seem astute, perfected, and chaotic.

The last bits of creatures end up in red-ant nests. Thereby cities of ants are fueled. Red-ant nests constitute simmering mounds of ant-flesh. Lore told me that tunnels, shafts, corridors, and rooms lie under nests. Also a queen was supposed to live down there, in supreme charge, a deified center of the chaos.

I thought of my face, human, peeking out of its ken, leaning over it all, taking note, breathing, seeing, smelling, and hearing--and being viewed, in some sense, by the nest and its individual members, so many, so teeming. The nest whispered and whirred.

The red-ant nest as I recall it was a kind of machine, a collective speaking with perpetuation's voice. Why was the nest so close to our house? Why was I so glad it was so close to our house? Why was I surprised when an ant crawled up my shoe, up my sock, and onto my bare leg--and bit?

The astonishing, stirring buzz and hum of a red-ant nest is the music of a niche.

Am I grateful I saw, stirred, smelled, and heard red-ant nests? Yes, I am. I am grateful.

No comments: